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Protecting a credit score during divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2019 | Divorce, Firm News

Some Massachusetts estranged couples may find that after a divorce, their credit rating suffers. This is not because of the process itself but may happen as a result of joint accounts. In some cases, it could also be because it is not uncommon for people to struggle financially after their marriage ends.

One problem is that regardless of what the divorce decree says, creditors will pursue people if a debt is in their name. This means that even if a couple agrees to split a debt that is in both names, if one does not pay, this could hurt the credit of both people. In order to protect themselves, people should remove spouses as authorized users on accounts and work together to close joint accounts. This could mean selling some jointly owned assets and using the proceeds to pay off the debts associated with them. Couples might agree to refinance a mortgage if one is going to keep the home. People should also monitor their credit reports.

Women may be more likely than men to suffer financially after a divorce, and this includes damage to their credit. Half of the women in an Experian survey said their credit was ruined by their former spouse. More than half said their credit rating went down while they were married.

People may want to consult an attorney about what they can do legally to protect themselves during the divorce process. For example, they should not unilaterally close joint accounts or take other actions that can make it appear as though they are trying to conceal assets. An attorney may also be able to advise regarding how the process of property division may proceed. A stay-at-home or lower-earning spouse may be able to collect alimony for a period of time, but this is usually not permanent.